Rupert's March North: Part Two, Lancashire

Part two of the Prince Rupert travelogue sees him venture through Lancashire towards York, and ultimately the battle of Marston Moor.

For ease of writing south of the Mersey is 'Cheshire', north of the Mersey is 'Lancashire'.

After crossing the Mersey, Rupert bypassed Manchester as it was too well defended, instead storming Bolton.

Immediately after Storming Stockport his army camped on Barlow Moor in what is now Didsbury. A plaque on Didsbury Library marks the spot.

Rupert attacked Bolton on the 28th of May three days after taking Stockport. The loss of Stockport led to the Parliamentarian forces besieging Lathom House to retreat to Bolton. The attack started in pouring rain, the 4000 defenders repulsing the Royalist attacks. A fresh attack led by the Earl of Derby broke the defensive line.

James Stanley, Earl of Derby

Two of the Royalist regiments of foot had returned from fighting in Ireland, and during the initial attack a number of their men were captured. An Irishman was hung by the defenders as they saw the presence of Irish men (and whole regiments of Catholic Irishmen, so they believed) as a Papist attack on their Calvinism. Bolton was a hotbed of Calvinism and known, at the time, as the 'Geneva of the North'.

Once in the town, Rupert's men, insensed by the hanging, showed no quarter. Up to 1600 defenders and residents were slaughtered in the streets. Recent appraisal of parish records show in the region of 150 casualties, but many would have been unrecorded. Regardless of the true number of casualties, the Massacre fuelled the Parliamentarian propaganda machine.

The Earl of Derby was captured in 1650, and taken to Bolton for execution in 1651. The execution took place outside Ye Olde Man and Scythe pub. A market cross nearby has plaques commemorating the event.

Ye Olde Man and Scythe

Ye Olde Man and Scythe is well worth a visit, and not just for it's famous selection of fruit ciders on draught. On display (second room on the right as you go through the front door) in a glass cabinet is the chair that Derby sat on whilst waiting for his final appointment.  Easily spotted due to the theatrical axe and bloodied head resting upon it. There are also a number of Civil War pictures on the walls (reenactors, newspaper articles, representations of the Storm of Bolton etc).

Latham House was under siege for most of 1644, the Countess of Derby refusing to surrender to Sir Thomas Fairfax. The House was heavily fortified, and Black Tom could not gain the upper hand. The siege was lifted when Rupert's advance drew near.

The House was besieged again in 1645, only this time the Countess wasn't at home to oversee the defending forces. After five months the defenders surrendered as it was clear no-one was coming to their aid.

Little remains of Lathom House now, the house was demolished almost immediately after the siege. There are extensive earthworks associated with the siege visible using LiDAR, but you will struggle to find them on the ground. The only visible recognition of the events is the Cromwell Stone, now found in the grounds of Lathom Park Chapel. Local stories say that the round indentations were used as moulds for cannonballs.

The Cromwell Stone

After the Bolton Massacre, Rupert rested in Bury for five days before turning for Liverpool. A five day siege saw Rupert take the city and the castle. Rupert and his army torched whatever they could find, leaving Liverpool in ruins.

Thanks to the handiwork of Rupert's army, the Georgians, the Victorians, the Luftwaffe, and Liverpool City Council planning department in the 1970s, there is nothing from the civil war period to see. The only reference to it is the locally named 'Prince Rupert's Tower' an 18th century lock-up in Everton (and which is immortalised on Everton F.C.'s badge).

Prince Rupert's Tower, Everton

Whilst in Liverpool, visit the Walker Art Gallery to view one of the most famous Civil War paintings (even though it is Victorian) Yeames's 'And When Did You Last See Your Father?'

Meanwhile, Charles's council of war had stripped Oxford of it's defenders in an attempt to swing the war in the south west. Oxford was now threatened by the armies of the William Waller and the Earl of Essex, so Charles left for Worcester, writing to Rupert of his predicament. This letter was slightly ambiguous, and Rupert's interpretation led to him relieving York then heading straight out to battle on Marston Moor.

Rupert's numbers had now swelled to about 14000, his march to Yorkshire took him, relatively uneventfully through Clitheroe, and Preston whose garrison surrendered without a shot being fired, before crossing the Pennines.

Other stuff:

Manchester had declared for Parliament at the outbreak of war, and had hired a German mercenary, Colonel Rosworm, to defend the city. Considerable defences were erected, but this did not deter Lord Strange (soon to become the Earl of Derby) attacking the city on 26th September 1642. Firing cannon down Deansgate, but to no avail. Lifting the siege in October as the city was deemed impregnable.

A blue plaque on the side of Richer Sounds on Deansgate marks the location of Alport Lodge, from where Strange fired his cannons. (There used to be an interpretation board at this location for many years, but this has disappeared during building works.)

Wythenshawe Hall: yet another beautiful timber framed house in South Manchester. Well it was until some little bugger set fire to it in 2016. Needless to say the Hall is shut due to restoration work. April 2022 update: renovations are now completed, final touches are being put to the Hall, and it is due to reopen to the public soon.

Wythenshawe Hall was besieged late 1643, eventually falling to Parliament when they wheeled some big guns over from Manchester.

Wythenshawe Hall pre-arson attack

Wythenshawe Hall renovations completed! (Now with added security fencing)

A statue of Oliver Cromwell was relocated from outside Manchester Cathedral to the parkland of Wythenshawe Hall in the 1980s.

No cheating! All four Cromwell statues feature in ECWtravelogue posts - can you find them? No prizes I'm afraid, just a smug feeling of superiority

Selected Bibliography
The Civil War In Lancashire S.Bull, Lancashire County Books
The History of the Siege of Manchester J.Palmer, Partizan Press

Postcodes for SatNavs
Didsbury Library M20 2DN
Ye Olde Man and Scythe BL1 1HL
Cromwell's Stone L40 5UQ
Prince Rupert's Tower L5 4LS
Richer Sounds Deansgate M3 4JB
Wythenshawe Hall M23 0AB

Footnote: having followed Rupert's route to the Pennines, it would be only right and proper to continue and follow his route to York. I blame Michael Portillo for this self imposed weight of expectation. 

Part 1 points of interest - purple
Part 2 green
Part 3 orange
Part 4 has its own map

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